The bees have been buzzing for a couple days now with word that the Village Voice, once one of the great bastions of print film criticism, is gutting its film staff. Critic Michael Atkinson was given the boot a couple days ago, and now film editor Dennis Lim has also been shown the door, leaving only J Hoberman (pictured, right) to hold down the film criticism fort at the Voice. Gawker wrote up Atkinson's firing earlier this week, with a scathing indictment of the shakedown going on at the Voice, noting that the old guard is being replaced with an awful lot of friends of Voice EIC David Blum. Anthony Kaufman is mourning, especially, the loss of Lim, who, as Kaufman notes, has been a champion for independent film over the years. The IFC Blog wrote up the Voice makeover as well, bemoaning the loss of one of the few reliable print outlets that bothered to cover indie film . And David Poland, natch, has a write-up on the sackings as well.
As interesting as the string of firings over at the Voice are to follow -- including the rather shocking canning of Robert Christgau, the Voice's venerable top music critic -- what's really going to be interesting is to see what happens there over the next few months. Will the old vanguard of Village Voice critics be replaced with more generic voices writing across publications? Will the Voice's coverage of independent film be silenced as a result of the turnover?
Perhaps even more interesting than the Voice cannings was the news that Jeff Johnson, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, got sacked last week as well after publicly refusing to go along with cutbacks ordered by parent company The Tribune Company. Editor Dean Baquet, who had resisted the cuts as well, was asked to stay on and agreed to do so,at least for now. These shakeups at major print outlets are kind of fascinating to follow -- makes you wonder how much of an impact the internet is going to continue to have on print publications, and on film journalism in particular. At the rate things are going, film sites like Cinematical, indieWIRE, Green Cine and Movie City News might be the only places really covering independent film at all.
What do you think about all these shakeups? Village Voice readers, what do you think is likely to be the future of the arts coverage at the Voice with the senior arts staff gutted? Can the Voice continue to be a vanguard of the arts with its key voices gone? And Los Angeles folks -- what do you think of Jeff Johnson being fired? Is the Times in danger of losing its status as a top-notch publication with The Tribune Company demanding newsroom cuts to increase profits? And what role does the internet play in all of this -- both in terms of print pubs like the Voice and LA Times needing to focus more on their internet, and in terms of the broader impact of the internet on journalism?